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Questions about Summary Judgment

What is a summary judgment?

A summary judgment is usually awarded before a trial, ruling that a trial would not be necessary. The reasons a summary judgment is issued are if there are no disputes of facts which need a trial to be resolved and one party is undoubtedly entitled to the judgment or the judgment is clearly in favor of one party. The party seeking the summary judgment is referred to as the “moving party”. Currently summary judgments are usually awarded for civil cases only. In criminal cases, a pre-trial judgment of conviction or acquittal is not possible as criminal defendants are entitled to a jury trial as part of their constitutional rights.

Listed below are a few questions answered by the Lawyers on issues related to summary judgments.

Is it possible to respond to a summary judgment with a letter and an affidavit? Whom should it be addressed to?

The response should be in the form of a court filing and is usually referred to as “memorandum in opposition” to a plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. It would need to contain the following information similar to any other filing: name of the court, case number and signature at the bottom. An affidavit is necessary and it could be attached as an exhibit. This should be filed with the clerk of the court with copies sent to the opposing party or attorney. Usually nothing should be sent to the judge directly.

For the purpose of an appeal, is a partial summary judgment considered final?

A partial motion or judgment for summary disposition is not the final decree. It cannot be considered for the purpose of an appeal as the case is still unresolved or pending.

I have filed a summary judgment and I am waiting for a response from the judge. In the meantime, I have unearthed some important information that would influence the judge’s decision in my case. How can I formally present this information to the judge?

In most cases, a judge would consider motion papers once the motion is marked as completely briefed. If there is any additional information that you would want the judge to consider, a letter stating so can be sent to him/her as well as a copy to the opposing party. Another option would be to check with the court to see if they prefer you withdraw your previous motion and re-file, including the new information, in the new motion.

I did not present a deposition which I should have while reverting to the summary judgment and I am unable to afford a lawyer. Can I file for appeal?

Usually a summary judgment is granted when the court believes that there is no dispute over the facts presented and thereby forgoes the need for a trial, based on the pleadings. As a reply to such a judgment, you would need to present facts or viable details for it to be reconsidered. The chances of filing an appeal, on the basis of excluding vital information are slim. The basis of an appeal here would be if there has been an inappropriate legal ruling by the court due to which you are seeking the intervention of a higher court. Appeal cannot be made based on the mistakes made by you or mishandling of the case.

Could I file a motion for summary judgment in an injunctive relief case?

A motion for summary judgment is usually filed in cases where the plaintiff alleges that the defendant is guilty of something and the defendant does not deny the allegation and also accepts he/she has no defense for the act. This situation would be enough for the ruling of a summary judgment. A motion for a summary judgment is for the overall case and cannot be used within a case in scenarios where there are requests for injunctions and other similar motions.

What is the difference between a motion for summary judgment as compared to a motion to dismiss with prejudice?

A motion for summary judgment is where the court weighs the facts about a part of the case or the whole case itself. A motion to dismiss with prejudice on the other hand is filed when there is a procedural issue such as a wrong party being named, wrong venue being listed or the case being filed in a court outside the stipulated jurisdiction. In most cases it is rare for a motion to dismiss with prejudice to be granted than it is for a summary judgment to be granted.

Summary judgments provide a speedy way of saving time, money and efforts of all concerned when the facts and evidence presented are undisputed and the court feels that there is no need for a trial. The matter is decided by the judge and is final.. To know more regarding your particular situation consulting Experts would be helpful.
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